On Cluttered Blogs

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Does a cluttered blog have you not returning? By cluttered I mean too many columns, small type, too many photos, difficult to follow, etc.

Maybe?

For me, there’s two big reasons I would not return to a blog. The first is because the blogger doesn’t read my type of books. The second is because the background is too bright/dark and the font is too bright/dark. There’s little I hate more than trying to read things like yellow writing on a red background – and, yes, I have seen that. I remember one blog that had a black background with purple writing.

Look, I already have enough trouble with my eyes, I don’t need to add to it.

Now, as far as the clutter is concerned… What I don’t like is when there’s constantly add/buttons for giveaways and tours and blitzs. I’m not interested in those things, I’m here to check out the memes and some reviews. So… Is that considered clutter? I mean, I wouoldn’t like it, even if it was laid out nicely.

Of the things listed, I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever come across any of them. I’m not the most interested in photos though, so they might not add anything for me. I usually follow the blog through bloglovin and, if I like the blog enough, I will search for it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blog with too many columns, but the small print would be a pass for me, without a doubt. (Vision problems again.)

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On the Subject of Instagram

Hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

Do you have an Instagram account? If so, do you only follow book folks?

No.

lol Sorry, so couldn’t resist that one. Anyway, I don’t have an Instagram account. I’ve thought about it, but haven’t yet for two very good reasons. I fail at social media. I mean, I’m never on twitter, and don’t even do Facebook. (I do pinterest in fits and starts, but I am the most active there – even if everything is for my own writing projects.) The other reason is because I have a really fussy digital camera. I bought one so I could post picture on my blog, and the camera is so sensitive that everything turns out blurry.

Recently I bought a cell phone with a camera (is this what they call a camera phone? le gasp) and the picture quality from it is actually better than that from my camera. (And it cost less, too.) So, the thought has been crossing my mind lately to start doing more pictures and that might expand to Instagram someday.

As for the second half of the question, that’s probably what would happen.

How about you?

Balancing Blogging with the Rest of Life is Hard

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For all of you worker bees out there! How do you balance having a day job/career and managing your blog at night? Is it hard or easy to do, and what do people in your work life think of your blogs?

I like one word answers, so let’s try that. In one word: poorly.

I mean, I don’t even have a really demanding job, and yet I still have a lot of problems making time for everything. I mean, I just took a hiatus for the entirety of May, and I still feel like I’m falling behind.

I also have a terrible time working out a system for posting. I mean, if I didn’t schedule, I’d never get anything posted, but I hate scheduling so far out that I’ve forgotten what my post was even about. And then there’s the issue of me not being original when it comes to posting.

Honestly, lately I’ve just been not doing so great with the whole blogging thing. I don’t want to give it up, because I know how awesome it could be if I’d really settle into it like I was before – but at the same time, it’s so much work and sometimes it’s not even fun anymore.

Blerg. See what happens when I’m asked how I manage my blog, it turns into a rant thing-y. Sorry about that, but it’s going to stay because these are things you guys should know. (Also, if you have any advice for managing life and blogging, do let me know!)

To answer the second half, there’s only one person that I know offline that knows I have a blog – and that’s my mom. Which, it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s forgotten by now.

If I’d Win a $100 Visa Card…(I wouldn’t be a very good reader)

Hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. Love the prompt this week!

You have just won a $100.00 Visa gift card. Will you spend the entire amount on a rare collector’s edition you have always wanted, or buy several newly-published books? Explain your choice.

Honestly? Probably neither. I’d most likely spend it on video games. You see, I usually use Amazon gift cards to buy my books and Visa cards for digital downloads – except I do try to use Steam gift cards when I can. Ooh, or I might buy nail polish with it. My reasoning is that if I buy a Visa gift card (which I do) I know it costs a ‘service fee’ so I try to only use that for things I can’t buy using a gift card that has no service fee. (Like Amazon or Steam cards.) So… Yeah, I’d probably be buying indie games that aren’t on Steam or nail polish.

If I had to choose between the two options listed… I’m not really a collector. I don’t see the value in something that you can’t use and the only thing it’s good for is to look at. (A few exceptions are things used for decoration. I don’t mind artwork, as long the house isn’t like a gallery, things with historical/cultural significance, or a few other odds ‘n’ ends. My bedroom has a few decorations, but little that serves no other function. I use things like candles, lanterns, – paper and train – incense burners and vases (and a Rubik’s Cube) as decoration.)

There was a time when I would have loved to get a nice leather bound set of Sherlock Holmes stories – but that time has passed. There was also a time that I would have liked a signed copy of a book from my favorite author – but I now have one and the author…is no longer my favorite. 😦

So, even if I’d rather buy like ten ten dollar books, I’d be much more likely to buy four to six newly published books than a collector’s edition of anything. (Seriously, I can’t even think of a single collector’s edition I’d want, anyway. And, yes, I know some people would go ahead and read them, but I’d be terrified that I’d damage the book. It’s not uncommon for pages/covers to get bent and food to get on my books. Nor is it common, but it does happen.)

Which would you choose?

My Most Read Authors of the Past 2 Years

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Love the prompt this week, even if I had to go through every book I’d finished in the last two years to get the answer. I will admit, the answer does surprise me a bit – both for who it is and, more, for how few books it is. (Author name links to Goodreads page.)

What author have you read the most in the past two years?

Martha Wells. Seven books – which is a little more than one every four months. I really expected my most read author to have something like ten or twelve books that I’d read in the past couple years, but…I do always say that Wells is one of my favorite authors, so this is fitting, I think.

Close seconds, at six books each, are Jim C. Hines (who is also one of my favorite authors, though I’m not loving his book that I’m currently trying to read) and Angel Martinez (because I binged a series of hers back in January but haven’t read anything of hers since).

Who are your most read authors of the past two years?

My Blog Personality

Hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. First day really back after a month long hiatus (I’m so not including my May Wrap Up post!) and I’m excited to be getting back into the swing of things. Hopefully I’ll start getting these posts linked up and quit forgetting about them.

What do you thing your blog says about you?

That I’m lazy, a procrastinator and not good at managing time. Also that I’m always saying I’ll do better, but it never works out that way. (I’m trying. Honestly, I am. I love blogging and would hate to see this fall by the wayside.)

I also think that if you pay attention to my monthly wrap up posts, you’ll learn quite a lot about me through the shows/movies I watch, the music I listen to and the games I play. To say nothing of the books I like. I think that the sort of entertainment media a person likes says stuff about your personality. (Of course, I’m not sure what it says…)

I think my blog probably also indicates that I’m not good with people. I mean, I can monologue on a post and then send it out in the world and be perfectly happy – but when it comes time to reply to comments, I get…fidgety.

I know the community is great. Everyone has bee so nice to me right from the start, but I’m a major introvert and it’s so exhausting even replying to a handful of comments. It’s something I’m trying to get better at.

I also hope that my blog says I’m open minded. I love reading diverse books, stories about people that aren’t like me, and I hope it comes through on my blog.

What does your blog say about you?

The IRL Struggles of a Book Reader

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When meeting with friends, do your discussions usually turn to books?

lol, No. Why do you think I started a book blog. Sure, I’ve had friends go I think I read that book – and then find out a little more about the book and be all oh, I guess not. The only people I can ever talk books with in person is my family and…well.

My sister used to pick at the books I read because ‘the covers look creepy and I wouldn’t read a book with that cover’ or she misread a title (it was The Last Camel Died at Noon – not The Last Camel Died at the Moon) and, even after being corrected, ooh, it’s too weird. Or basically go, I don’t like those kind of books, they’re too boring. Considering that when my mom and I used to go to the library at least once a week and my sister would as our mom to pick up books for her to read, they were always bodice rippers/harlequins, (and I hated going down that isle in the library) it’s really not a surprise we could never really talk books. (And I’ve not spoken to her in four years, so who knows what she reads anymore.)

My dad reads westerns. I don’t remember the last time I saw him reading anything other than a western. And I’ve read one western in my life and didn’t like it. (I thought it would be awesome because the group of ‘heroes’ was a theater troop full of crooks. It wasn’t cool, but incredibly boring.)

My brother actually used the read a lot, and we’d loan books back and forth and talk about them. (This was back in the days of D&D.) Then, and this is totally my fault, I introduced him to anime. Now, for the past 8-10 years, that’s all he’s really wanted to talk about/been interested in. It wasn’t so bad when I watched as much anime as he did, but I’ve discovered a lot of problems with anime and struggle to enjoy much of it, and he still adores so much of it. (And I think my reading tastes changed too much for him and, besides re-reading those D&D books he bought, about the only thing I know he reads is westerns he borrows from our dad.)

The only person that borrows books from me ever anymore is my mom. But while she has read fantasy and sci-fi books, I think they have too much excitement for her (which is why she doesn’t borrow many movies from me, which is a whole other subject). She does occasionally borrow mystery books from me, but I don’t read much of them anymore so I buy few. Left to her own devices, she usually reads christian books, amish books or mystery novels. Two of which I don’t read much anymore and one of which I never did. Besides, even on the occasions when we actually read the same book, she doesn’t get excited about the book/characters/any of it. I’m over there rattling on about this and that and how awesome this is and what that might have meant and, I swear, her eyes glaze over. So I’ve learnt to temper my excitement and just ask if she liked it. (And usually get the ultimate mom answer of ‘it was good.’)

And there you have a very lengthy, very wordy breakdown of why, exactly, I had to start a book blog. Because, seriously, you guys get it!

Reading Retellings (and, maybe, classics)

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Do you enjoy reading retellings of, or ‘sequels’ to, classic novels? Why or why not?

I think if you follow me at all, you probably already know the answer to the first part of this question. I do like retellings. Even if they’re a mixed bag usually and sometimes they don’t turn out so well, I keep getting excited when I hear there’s another retelling of a fairytale coming out.

For the classics… I’ve never actually read a ‘sequel’ or retelling of them. I did read part of one once, on the internet, but all it was was putting smut into a classic, so I’m not really sure this is that… But I’ve never read an actual sequel to a classic. Though I am interested in a few of them. Like Wicked. (But I think I’m waiting for the movie…) And Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (But, knowing me, I’d probably just watch the movie there, too. And I just finished the Ella, the Slayer series – about a zombie slayer Cinderella – and really can’t imagine that book holding a candle to Ella.)

Okay, so, I was just – as I was typing this out – doing a bit of research about sequels to classics and, I have read some. I’ve read some of the Sherlock Holmes stories by other authors. I’ve got at least four short story collections and one full length novel written by someone other than Doyle. Those totally count.

Now, as to why… I’ll answer the classics one first. I don’t read classic sequels because I seldom much care for the original classic enough to read more about/similar-to it. I can count the number of classics that I’ve enjoyed on one hand and have at least to fingers to spare: Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island and Sherlock Holmes. (Two of which I doubt I could reread and enjoy half as much as I did the first time around.) I have recently discovered (like, today) that there are a couple of sequels to Treasure Island – and I might have to read them. There’s also a type of prequel show to it in Black Sails that I will, eventually, be watching.

As for the retellings and why I like them so much, for me, it’s a case of expectations vs. creativity. Take for example the story of Cinderella – as, arguably, the best known fairytale. Every author starts with the same blueprint for their story: Cindersoot, evil step-mother and step-sisters, dead father, handsome prince – but no two stories are the same. You have the sci-fi, futuristic take of Cinder by Marissa Meyers, the ‘after the happy ending’ fantasy tale of The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines, the zombie fighting action of Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley and the steampunk career girl mentality of Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell.

Each story starts with the same Cinderella and each story gives us a happy ending, but, between that, each author put’s their own distinct spin on the characters and the plot. I love seeing the different ways authors use the same structure to tell their story and I love all the little hints and clues to the original tale that the authors pepper their stories with, the nods to the original, and, more than any of that, the assurance that – because they are still a fairytale – we will get a happy ending.

Do you read retellings or classic sequels?

Hardcovers & their Dust Jackets

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Do you read hardcovers with the dust jacket on or off? Why or why not?

If I were the sort to give you a simple answer here, the answer would be: both.

Sometimes dust jackets are nice and convenient to have. I have been known to not have a bookmark with me and use the flap of the dust jacket to mark my page. (I used to do this a lot more than I do now!) And, I admit, sometimes the dust jacket is pretty. Also, I like sliding the book through the dust jacket – you know, turning it one way then the other and the book nearly sliding completely out before you turn it around and do it again? (Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this. Please?)

But, sometimes the dust jacket just gets in the way. Like when I’m exercising and trying to read and I have to keep adjusting the book so the cover doesn’t slide right off. Then there’s other instances where the dust jacket is just plain ugly – or, less often, I’m reading a book that I don’t want to get into a discussion/argument about with my family (parents, pretty sure my brother couldn’t care less what I read) and I’ll pull off the dust jacket so it’s harder to see what the book is. (That, folks, is how I read the last three Harry Potter books, so get your mind out of the gutter.)

So, I do both, but it depends on the book as well as the situation I’m reading it in.

How do you read your hardcovers?

Do I Blog Eclectically?

Hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. I don’t have anything witty to say here, so let’s just get to the question today, shall we.

Do you prefer to blog about (a) specific book genre(s), or do you have an eclectic blog?

This is a very interesting question for me because I seldom plan out which books I’m going to review before I read them. Sure, sometimes I have a book that I know I’ll want to talk about, but for me usually it just hits me as I’m reviewing the book that, hey, I’ve got enough to say about this book that I could totally write a review. Because that’s kind of a thing for me, if I have to fill out a review for a book, I need to be able to talk about it easily, I need the review to flow, otherwise it sounds fake and I’ll get impatient and stop.

That being said, I definitely focus on certain types of books because that’s what I read. On my blog you’ll see a lot of fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk and historical LGBT+ romances talked about and reviewed – though not because of any plans of my own but because that’s mostly what I read. (I have been known to binge read contemporary LGBT+ romances, too, on occasion, but I seldom have enough to say about them to warrant a full review.)

I guess, for me, the answer is kind of both. I mean, I do blog about specific genres, usually, but if I have something to say about a book, I will, regardless of the genre it fits in.

What’s your blog like? Do you have a preference?